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Preaching

The Cross or a Crutch? A Sermon from John 5:1-29

By March 30, 2014No Comments

Every now and then a sermon just seems to fight you. You know what I mean, right?

This week’s message was like that. I’m ramping up for Easter by doing a short series through John’s gospel focusing on those statements Jesus made about “the hour.” At the wedding feast in Cana he told his mother, “my hour has not yet come.” At the well in Samaria he told the woman, “an hour is coming.” Eventually we’ll get to chapter 17 where he prays to the Father, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.” Then on Easter we will end on the cross where he said, “It is finished.” Not a bad little series, right?

This week I looked at John 5, the story of the healing of the paralyzed man at Bethesda. The Jewish leaders took issue with Jesus healing on the Sabbath. If he had authority over the Sabbath then he had authority over the whole law. Authority to forgive sins, authority to judge, authority over . . . them. When he was questioned after the healing Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.”

By Thursday I had the sermon about two thirds of the way written. Friday I started re-writing. I just didn’t like the way it was going. There are multiple issues going on in this text, but they’re intertwined. Jesus has authority over the Sabbath, therefore he has authority over the whole Law–therefore he is the judge of us all. Since he’s the judge we don’t face judgment after life. Since we don’t face judgment we’ve already received eternal life.

I didn’t like the way I had organized those thoughts the first time through. I reviewed my notes and came up with the question, “Why did Jesus heal this man?” Why did he ask if he wanted to get well? Why didn’t he just heal him a little. Why not a crutch instead of a cross?

The aim of this sermon was to take away that “woe is me” mentality and concentrate on what Jesus has already done for us–he has not only forgiven us, he’s taken away the punishment for our sin and given us eternal life. Do we really live like that’s true, though?

When we do, this world will really have something to marvel at!